Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Food Review: Mati's Meat and Bread in River Park, Filinvest Festival Mall Alabang

Last September 8. 2015, Sky Gavin of wheninmanila.com invited me to a food tasting at Mati's Meat and Bread situated at River Park, Filinvest Festival Mall, Alabang. Our group spent an hour and a half for travel time. The distance was frustrating, but the quality food made the journey worthwhile. 

Immediately upon arriving, we were immediately treated to a wave of nothing but food of the highest quality. This isn't surprising since the Mati's is owned by the same restaurant group that owns Melo's and House of Wagyu, two of the most well-established meat and steak joints in the country. Melo's is owned by his father-in-law Melo Santiago, the person who pioneered the importation and use of imported Angus Beef in the Philippines.

Mati's is taken from the name of his son. Also, the menu names are also based on the names and favorites of his family and immediate relatives. The restaurant is about four years old. According to the owner, Mati's serves Filipino fusion cuisine with steak specialties. This concept is due to the fact that he travels all over the U,S, and Canada, where he usually gets his ideas. The conceptualization of these ideas culminated in the formation of the restaurant. While the restaurant group has been a stable fixture in the fine dining scene, they still made it a point to cater to other middle class markets through this joint. Another reason for creating the venue is to showcase the wonderful new ideas without question or conflict with the other restaurants that the group owns.

Aside from the fusion cuisines, the star of the show is the steak menu consisting of Certified Angus and USDA Classic Steak. Surprisingly, price points are lower than that of the other restaurants in the group. All steaks are still imported, and are at par to that served in Melo's. Apart from the steak, the menu also boasts of cheesy favorites. According to the owner, nothing can go wrong with cheese on top.

For starters, we had a wonderful array of creamy appetizers consisting of Spinach Dip and Truffle Bone Marrow. Both are served with French Bread. Both dishes make it highly preferrable as dips for the bread due to the right combination of thickness and taste. Both are also heavily coated with cheese to enhance flavor and thickness. I especially found the the Bone Marrow to be more preferable due to the fact that I like animal fat. Good thing I don't have to worry about cholesterol at my age.

The next part of the repertoire was the Mama's Buffalo Wings. The recipe was based on that of the owner's mom. This time, the wings were spicy and tangy. It was a refreshing addition to soothe the fatty taste of the dips we had earlier. The blue cheese dip that came with the wings gave it a unique flavor. Since it was a bit strong, it overpowered the taste of the chicken, but the experience was still remarkable nevertheless.

The most surprising part of the menu was the cholesterol-inducing Balut Aligue. This fat filled goodness should be enough to knock out people with high cholesterol; but most of the older guests still dared to try it. Personally, I'm not a fan of balut. However, I gave it a try to see if this high-cholesterol treat was worth it. I'd say it was. The balut was not too salty. The aligue seemed to provide some sweetness to it even.  At least I overcame my fear of duck eggs.

To accompany the fatty Aligue, we had a helping of Baked Mussels. The appetizer was king-sized and fresh! 8 pieces were strewn across the plate. The oysters also had a heap of cheese and butter for more fatty goodness. I especially enjoyed this dish since I love oysters. They were really baked well. Nothing was overcooked.

Five appetizers aren't enough according to the owner. We had a taste of their salad varieties including Vince's chicken spinach salad and Camille's spinach salad. At about 200 pesos, these were a steal. Ordinary salads would just use lettuce. But not this one. These had lettuce peppered with spinach and arugula, two vegetables that are used in artisan pizza. Apart from that, these had unique toppings. Vince's salad had roast chicken and onion rings. Camille's had the spicy chili vinaigrette and mango. I'd say that these two variants gave a well-needed twist to a dish that was once considered boring.

The carb-filled goodness was continued with their pasta and pizza variants. Bia's Four Cheese, Tali's Gamberetti, Salpico Pizza, and Pepperoni Pizza were served for the day. All of these variants had a generous helping of mozzarella cheese. They differed in their toppings. For starters, Bia's four cheese was mixed with white and goat cheese, apart from the mozzarella. Cheese lovers had their way with this one. On the other hand, The Gambretti was for seafood lovers. It had bits of anchovy interspersed with olive for that genuine Mediterranean taste. The Salpico pizza was a taste of things to come. The beef was very soft and tender, and it was accentuated with garlic. You can actually forget the cheese and crust when you have tasted the meat. Lastly, the pepperoni was laden with pesto sauce for that unique feel. It was a bit salty, but bearable. In sum, I'd take the Salpicao pizza anytime over all the others due to my biased preference for steak!

The pasta selection was impressive too. We had two variants. These were the Truffle and Shrimp Pasta which served as the seafood variety. The Truffle pasta served as the standard type. Both were pretty savory. The Truffle pasta was mixed in olive oil, which gave it a vibrant flavor. Further, it was complemented by a generous helping of garlic bread. The sauce wasn't overpowering compared to the pasta of other establishments. The seafood pasta, on the other hand, had fresh shrimp. I didn't get any allergies from it.

We also sampled one sandwich called the Grilled Cheese. True to its name, it had a generous helping of cheese melted in between two whole wheat bread slices. I love the fact that the bread didn't crumble after every bite. It stood firm as it was being eaten. The cheese wasn't salty either. 

As the steak was getting nearer to our table, we had to overcome one last obstacle: the Salpicao. As Mati's was part of the Melo's group, this dish lived up to its reputation. The salpicao had the right mix of saltiness and sweetness reminiscent of imported steak. However, this was just the prelude. The Salpicao had a generous helping of garlic rice on the side. It also had the sauce wh

The ultimate centerpiece of the feast was the steak. The way they cool steak is unique. As an option, the staff cooks it in the pugon which is usually done in front of the customer to ensure freshness. Flammable gel is used to minimize the smell of cooking. Two variants were given to us: the USDA and Angus Steak. We had to wait for about 15 minutes before it was cooked. The wait had great rewards, though. Being medium well, these steaks represented the Mati's brand well. These were juicy with every bite. They were best served without barbecue sauce or gravy for one to fully experience that beefy flavor. Fortunately, the edges were not burnt or mangled. It just shows how well they cook the meat. As for the taste, I'd say that the meat was top class. It didn't taste burnt or bloody. It was grilled to perfection. Also, the steak melted in my mouth as I ate it. The experience really persuaded me to go back and try more of their steak variants next time.

No meal shall ever end without dessert! True to this motto, the owner indulged us with their cakes. We had the Red Velvet, Eclair, and the Choco Fudge cakes. The Eclair and Choco Fudge cakes were topped with Ice Cream. I'd go for the Eclair cake since I'm a lover of chocolate. But, the others were great too. No overpowering sweetness here. All were tempered with the right mix of sugar, cream, and icing that gave the dishes their unique twist. The Eclair and Choco Fudge cakes focused on chocolate flavor while the red velvet cake focused on enhancing that well-known cream cheese flavor. My personal preference goes with the eclair cake due to its cheesecake-style base.

Of course, the trip was a very memorable one. I couldn't wait to go back there with family and friends!

For those interested, Mati's Meat and Bread is located at River Park Filinvest Festival Mall, Alabang. You can call them at 847-2273. Their facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/matismeatandbread 

The story in pictures:

The menu: note the very affordable prices!

Truffle Pasta

Four Cheese Pizza

Vince's Chicken Salad

Pepperoni Pizza

The USDA Steak

Mashed Potato and Corn and Carrots

The Angus Steak

Baked Mussels

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Camille's spinach salad

Red Velvet Cake

Eclair Cake

The cholesterol-rich Balut Aligue

Choco Fudge Cake

Mama's Chicken Wings

Salpicao Pizza

Seafood Pasta

Truffled Bone Marrow

The USDA Steak

Pictures courtesy of Arnold Yew of Citylifemanila.asia
Zomato.com for the menu

Mati's Meat and Bread Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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